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Are we in trouble? We just demanded that one of our employees lose weight

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Q. I own a restaurant where we require the waitresses to wear revealing outfits. Recently, we placed an employee on a probationary period as a result of her having gained weight. We advised her that if she did not lose 10 pounds in 60 days, we would terminate her employment. Have we done anything illegal?

A. Under Ohio law, probably not. Some states, like Michigan, expressly prohibit weight discrimination. Ohio’s discrimination laws do not include weight as a protected class. Moreover, the disability discrimination laws do not protect weight (although they can protect underlying medical conditions that could cause one to become overweight, as well as underlying medical conditions caused by one’s obesity).

One issue that you might want to think about is whether your weight policy could be categorized as gender discrimination on the basis of sexual stereotyping.

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